Pride Parade seeks civic status

Designation means City of Vancouver covers policing, garbage costs

After more than a decade of discussion the city is one step closer to granting civic status to the annual Pride Parade.

Also being considered for civic status are the annual Chinese New Year and Vaisakhi parades. Civic status would transfer costs such as policing and garbage cleanup from the organizations to the city.

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Ray Lam, general manager of the Vancouver Pride Society, said the move would save the organization between $60,000 and $75,000 annually.

That would free us up to establish more community projects, said Lam, who added the society has been attempting to gain civic status since before he joined the organization almost 10 years ago.

City staff has worked on a report since Vision Vancouver Coun. Tim Stevenson brought a motion forward last August asking whether the city has criteria set for granting civic status to events. He requested that with the lack of such criteria that guidelines be established. To date there are three events with civic status, including the annual Celebration of Light fireworks festival, the Remembrance Day parade and ceremony and the Grey Cup Parade.

Lam said while there has been much discussion with the city in the past regarding the popular Pride Parade and civic status, this is the first time an actual staff report was commissioned.

Every time weve asked in the past, we were told there was no process in place to determine civic status, said Lam. They had talked about it, but had never gotten around to it. This is the furthest its ever come.

Lam said the Pride Parade draws hundreds of thousands of people to Vancouver and added a study commissioned in 2001 showed the economic impact of annual Pride Week celebrations to the city is a gain of $30 million.

That was in 2001 and its grown since then, said Lam.

Stevenson said theres a far greater understanding today regarding the inequalities that have been inherent at the city since civic status was granted to these three established events.

Since they were established the whole nature of the city has changed, said Stevenson. The largest parade in the city today is undoubtedly the Pride Parade.

Stevenson added theres been a gradual recognition of the economic benefits of the Pride, Chinese New Year and Vaisakhi parades and related events bring to the city. The civic status report was scheduled to go to the citys Planning Transportation and Environment Committee May 15, but was postponed, possibly to May 29.

The report wasnt quite done, said Stevenson. Staff still had to cross some Ts and dot some Is.

He said the economic benefits of large events makes them obvious candidates for civic status. He called giving the Remembrance Day parade and ceremony civic status a no-brainer.

But, my reasoning was tell us why [the Grey Cup Parade and Celebration of Light] have civic status, said Stevenson. I know some people thought the Grey Cup parade was wonderful when it was established in 19-something. But I said lets have a look at the criteria. There has to be some kind of fairness.

Stevenson is very positive the report will be well received by council and added the response from staff and the city manager has been the same.

So Im looking forward to seeing the criteria they come up with, he said.

The Courier was unable to contact anyone from the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver or the Khalsa Diwan Society of Vancouver prior to press deadline.

sthomas@vancourier.com

twitter.com/sthomas10

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